Southern Railway closed its booking counter nearly a week ago citing a hike in rent by AAI

Passengers may now be unable to make railway reservations at Chennai airport as Southern Railway closed its booking counter there nearly a week ago.

Railway officials cite a hike in rent by Airports Authority of India (AAI) as the reason for this move.

The facility that was started in the airport in March 1996 came in handy for air passengers who were planning travel to other districts from Chennai.

Southern Railway sold about 180 tickets a day on an average and paid around Rs. 5,000 a month as rent for the space given to them near the arrival hall of the old domestic terminal. In the new domestic terminal, though, AAI had asked them to pay nearly Rs. 15,000 a month, said an official of Southern Railway.

“They have tripled the rent for us and we can’t afford to pay so much for a counter. Apart from rent, we will also have to pay for electricity and telephone. Hence we don’t want to shift to the new domestic terminal. Now, we plan to shift this facility to Tirusulam station and have sent a proposal for the same to the board,” he said.

Many AAI employees too were using the facility for several years now. According to an AAI official, the Railway paid only half the rent collected from the other counters, including the airlines.

“This is an important passenger facility that should be present at airport. Citing increased rent for shutdown of counter seems too trivial a reason. Many passengers will suffer without the facility,” he added.

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